Driven

Korean golfers are remaking the LPGA -- and not everyone's happy about it.

Originally Published: December 8, 2003
By Eric Adelson | ESPN The Magazine
Donna Andrews tried not to stare. The LPGA vet walked to the first tee at the Canadian Women's Open last summer in Vancouver and looked out at the gallery. Finding hundreds of fans but few white faces, she turned to her caddie and whispered, "Where are we?"

Soo-Yun Kang
Soo-Yun Kang, known as the "fashion model of the fairways" back home, is one of the media-savvy young Koreans entering the spotlight.

Baseball has a Matsui here and there. Basketball has Yao. Football's got Dat Nguyen. Hockey's got Richard Park. And then there's women's golf. No American pro sports league has been reshaped by Asians like the LPGA. Three of the top four money-winners (Se Ri Pak, Grace Park, Hee-Won Han) are Korean. Almost every LPGA event is broadcast in South Korea, which pays more rights fees than any other foreign country. The LPGA even has a tour stop on Jeju Island. And while the golf market averages zero growth globally, golf-related imports boomed at a 30 percent clip last year in this nation of 50 million people. Not bad for a place where space is tight and greens fees are through the roof. "It's amazing," says Park, who's endorsing Nike's first women's golf clubs. "They're at the range from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. Men, women, kids, everyone."

Eric Adelson | email

ESPN The Magazine
Eric Adelson was a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.

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